The Baseball Desert

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Under Pressure

There are more than 120,000 square feet of playing surface on a baseball field, but last night's game was decided by a margin of about 1 1/2 inches - that's the distance between Tony Graffanino's glove and the ball that got by him in the fifth inning.

With one man out and a runner on first, Graffanino was thinking double-play, but he got ahead of himself, missed the ball and the runners were safe. Iguchi then hit a three-run home run off David Wells and that, unfortunately, was the ballgame.

So it's back to Fenway Park, 0-2 down in the series. 2003 and 2004 showed that it's not insurmountable, but it is going to take some doing. The strange thing is that I'm not particularly worried, either about the game or indeed the Red Sox' fate. I want them to come back, to thrill us with some of the magic we saw in 2004 - I'll be watching the game tomorrow, trying to invoke some Dave Roberts mojo with my #31 jersey and hoping that the Red Sox can pull off yet another unbelievable comeback.

However, if it doesn't happen, then so be it - I won't be tearing my hair out in frustration or wanting to stick sharp objects in my eye. I know that other Red Sox fans have felt this at different stages of the season, and it generally seems to be ascribed to some kind of grace period following last year's World Series win. I honestly don't know whether it's that, because I'm a recent Red Sox convert and don't have those years or decades of disappointment that haunted the rest of Red Sox Nation.

On balance I think it's probably more likely that it's because the Red Sox proved over 162 regular-season games that they were once again one of the best teams in baseball. And not only that, but they did it in the face of injuries to key players. If you'd said to me at the beginning of the season that the Sox would lose their ace for a good chunk of the season and have their closer disappear off the radar and yet would still make the playoffs, I would have taken that in a heartbeat.

So, I'll be showing a little faith tomorrow, because sometimes there's magic in the night, but if we don't get the fairytale ending between now and Sunday, then so be it. The present will look dim for a few days, but we can smile because the future is bright.